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Chest Exercises

12 Dec 15
SPWorkout
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A muscle group which a lot of guys spend hours upon hours working on is the chest. Day-in and day-out people go to the gym, jump on the bench, and press until their heart is content. It’s not uncommon to see people simply doing flat bench presses for chest along with some fly movements.

To build an overall strong and well developed chest you need to do more than just a flat bench press. You need to hit the chest from different angles and stimulate and break down those fibres to see some growth.

This article will show you some tips and workouts for building perfect pecs. Let’s first talk a little about the chest and the musculature so you can fully understand how the chest works.

Anatomy of the Chest

The chest is made up of two muscles: the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor.

The pecs are found attached to the humerus of the arm, right near the shoulder joint. The pecs then run across the front of the body and originate on the breastbone. The pectoralis major is attached to the front of the body on the rib cage. The pectoralis minor is found underneath the pectoralis major. It originates on the ribs and attaches up to the scapula, specifically at the coracoid process.

The pectoralis major brings the humerus across the body while the pectoralis minor moves the shoulders forward.

Chest Anatomy

Exercises for the Upper Chest

When it comes to chest training most guys have trouble filling out the upper chest and creating that nice full square chest look. Rather than the droopy look that comes from over developed lower pecs.

Most people usually do not have much problem with the lower pecs because the bench press, which primarily targets the lower chest, is one exercise that always finds its way into everyone’s chest workout.

Exercises;

Push ups

Lie on your stomach with your hands, palms flat underneath your shoulders. Fully extend your fingers. Put your feet together with your toes bent underneath. Keep your legs straight.

Straighten your arms and push your body up. Remember to keep your back and legs straight. When you reach the top pause for a second and then lower yourself back towards the floor until your chest is 2 inches from the floor and your elbows are at 90 degrees.

Push ups

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

Sit down on incline bench with dumbbells resting on lower thigh. Kick weights to shoulders and lean back. Position dumbbells to sides of chest with upper arm under each dumbbell.

Press dumbbells up with elbows to sides until arms are extended. Lower weight to sides of upper chest until slight stretch is felt in chest or shoulder. Repeat.

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

Incline Dumbbell Flys

Lie with your back flat on an incline bench. Keep your back straight and your feet planted firmly on the ground.

Grab a dumbbell in each hand and hold the weight straight above you with your arms fully extended. The dumbbells should be positioned so that your hands are making a direct vertical line with your neck with your palms facing one another.

Lower the dumbbells in a controlled manner with your elbows slightly bent and arms stretched out wide. You should lower the weight with an arcing motion until your elbows and chest form a straight horizontal line. Do not continue the motion past this point. Feel the stretch in your pectoral muscles.

Raise the dumbbells using the same arcing motion. Lift the weight with your pectoral muscles, not your shoulders or arms. Focus only on bringing your chest together. Squeeze at the top of the movement for peak contraction. This is considered one repetition.

Incline Dumbbell Flys

Incline Dumbbell Chest Press

Adjust the seat so that you are sitting comfortably on the incline bench. Rather than being flat as you were for the bench press, the incline bench rests your back on an angle. While the manufacturer will pre-set the angle, the seat will be adjustable. Make sure you adjust the seat so that you can easily reach the bar. Perform one repetition without weight to make sure.

Grip the bar with your pinkies on the “ring.” Weight lifting bars have a grip right on the bar.     There is also a smooth ring about 1/2 inch thick. Place each pinkie on that ring and close your hand so it grasps the bar.

Bring the bar down toward your chest. The incline bench press focuses on the upper part of the pectoral muscle and the front of your shoulder. As you bring the bar down, focus on it coming to the top of your chest. Do not bounce the bar off your chest, as you will be over-extending your shoulders.

Press the bar back up to complete one repetition. Don’t completely lock out your elbows when pressing the bar back up. Simply straighten them to what feels like a comfortable position.

Incline Dumbbell Chest Press

Cable Cross Overs

This exercise is performed using the cable pulley machine that has a pulley on two opposite sides. Set each pulley up so that it is locked in the high position (if you are not sure how to do this, ask a trainer at the gym you work out at to assist you). While standing, grab each high pulley using a small one-hand attachment for each hand. The position your body will be in will look like a giant letter “T.” Slowly bring your arms together in a slow and controlled fashion. While doing so, visualize that you are hugging a giant tree trunk. At the peak of this movement, really flex your pec muscles together for a one-count and then return to the start position and repeat.

Cable Cross Overs

 

Pec Pumping Chest Workout

When it comes to chest training a common problem that a lot of guys have is that they can’t feel their chest working when doing big compound exercises like the bench press. Very often their triceps and shoulders take over and they feel very little (if any) muscle pump in the pecs.

So in this chest workout we’re going to start off by Pre-Exhausting the pecs with an isolation exercise first before we move into the mid-range compound pressing exercises. This will help to pump blood into your chest early in the workout so that when you do perform your bench presses you’ll feel more muscle activation.

Exercises for the Pecs

Bench Press

Lie flat on the bench under the rack that holds the bar. Your eyes should be approximately aligned with the front of the barbell rack uprights.

Butt, shoulders and head should be flat on the bench with a slight (neutral) bend in the spine. Feet should be flat on the floor and relatively wide apart.

Try a few lifts without any additional weights to warm up and to get the feel of the bar.

When you’re ready to add weight, fit the appropriate barbell plates to the bar and position yourself for the lift.

Grasp the bar with your thumbs on the outside of your closed fist, overhand grip, with arms slightly wider than shoulder width apart. The angle of the upper arms should be at about 45 degrees to the body.

If you don’t use the specialized bench press rack, a standard flat bench can be used with dumbbells or a light barbell. Or you can use a Smith machine.

If you are not at ease with feet on the floor because of short legs, use blocks or weight plates under the feet to boost height rather than placing legs on the bench, which reduces stability.

Bench Press

Pec Deck Flys

Sit on bench with back against pad. Place forearms against lever pads and grab handle. Push pads together and release, going back to get a full stretch.

Pec Deck Flys

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

Sit down on incline bench with dumbbells resting on lower thigh. Kick weights to shoulders and lean back. Position dumbbells to sides of chest with upper arm under each dumbbell.

Press dumbbells up with elbows to sides until arms are extended. Lower weight to sides of upper chest until slight stretch is felt in chest or shoulder. Repeat.

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

Flat Bench Flys

Select a flat weight bench. Dumbbell flies also may be performed at different angles (as in inclined or declined flies) to target different areas of the chest (pectoral) muscles.

Lie flat on the weight bench facing up with a dumbbell in each hand. Stretch your arms out to the side with the palms facing up and slightly bent at the elbows. Inhale and pull your arms as close together as you can while still keeping tension on your pectorals. Pause when your arms are close together to squeeze your pectorals together.

Lower your arms as you exhale while keeping the arms slightly bent. Allow your elbows to descend no lower than the level of your shoulders before bringing your arms back up again.

Check for deviations from proper form, especially as you become fatigued. Your back should remain on the bench without significant arching and your feet should stay on the floor.

Flat Bench Flys

Seated Chest Press Machine

Sit comfortably on the machine with a small test load fixed on each side of the weight pins, if this is your first try on this machine. Your feet should be placed firmly on the floor, about shoulder width apart.

Grasp the handles and push the bars (see photos) outward to full extension of the elbows but without “locking out” explosively.

Try to keep the head steady, against the upright pad, and neck still. Breathe out on exertion and in on recovery.

You should feel significant resistance against the horizontal push. Try different weights until you are able to push out and back for about 10 repetitions, the last repetition feeling somewhat difficult.

Seated Chest Press Machine

Cable Cross Over Flys

This exercise is performed using the cable pulley machine that has a pulley on two opposite sides. Set each pulley up so that it is locked in the high position (if you are not sure how to do this, ask a trainer at the gym you work out at to assist you). While standing, grab each high pulley using a small one-hand attachment for each hand. The position your body will be in will look like a giant letter “T.” Slowly bring your arms together in a slow and controlled fashion. While doing so, visualize that you are hugging a giant tree trunk. At the peak of this movement, really flex your pec muscles together for a one-count and then return to the start position and repeat.

Cable Cross Over Flys

 

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